A tour of some of the world's most famous housesJUN 22

John Green shares delightful and interesting stories about 21 of the world's most famous houses, including the Playboy Mansion, Winchester Mystery House, and Graceland.

Identity, names, and personal reputation management in Inglourious BasterdsJUN 21

The Bear Jew. Hugo Stiglitz. The Jew Hunter. Bridget von Hammersmark. Names, identity, and personal reputation management are important elements in Inglourious Basterds, as they are in all of Tarantino's films (Vincent Vega, our man in Amsterdam; Mr. Pink; The Bride / Beatrix Kiddo / Black Mamba). In this video essay, Drew Morton shows how Tarantino's characters assert their identities over and over again, with varying results.

How do airplane black boxes work?JUN 21

First of all, they're not actually black. (They're orange.) They capture more than 80 types of on-board information, including the last two hours of cockpit voice communications. And someday, they might get replaced by uploading data to the cloud (a secure cloud, one hopes).

The fashionable peacocks of Pitti UomoJUN 21

Aaron Christian shot footage of the fashionably dressed gentlemen attending the Pitti Uomo menswear trade show and paired it with David Attenborough-esque commentary about peacocks.

Unlike the cues outside of the city shows, where photographers have a few seconds to snap their favourite look. Pitti Uomo is a four day long menswear trade show, in Florence, Italy.

It's a vast space where attendees spend all day walking around, visiting stands, eating in the sun or catching up with fellow fashion colleagues -- and so consequently it has become a prime spot for the worlds top street style photographers to document and shoot some of the most stylish men on the planet.

It's become a peacock parade where the men show off their outfits in all their glory hoping to get snapped by the top photographers.

It's quite comical, the way the fully grown men pace around subtly trying their best to get snapped, and it's the perfect location for this wildlife style mockumentary to take place.

Live: Sigur Ros circles Iceland with generative soundtrackJUN 20

Icelandic band Sigur Rós is doing a live slow TV event: a broadcast of a drive around the entirety of Iceland with a soundtrack generated by software based on a new song of theirs.

driving anti-clockwise round the island, the journey will pass by many of the country’s most notable landmarks, including vatnajökull, europe’s largest ice-sheet; the glacial lagoon, jökulsárlón; as well as the east fjords and the desolate black sands of möðrudalur.

the soundtrack to the journey is being created moment-by-moment via generative music software. the individual musical elements of unreleased song, and current sigur rós festival set opener, óveður, are seeded through the evolving music app bronze, to create a unique ephemeral sonic experience. headphones, external speakers and full-screen viewing are recommended.

LittleSis database of biz/gov't connectionsJUN 20

Littesis

LittleSis is a freely available database that documents personal and business connections in the worlds of government and business. For instance, here's George Soros. And Dick Cheney. Love the Lombardi-esque influence maps. (via @kellianderson)

(P.S. Does anyone remember the name of a similar project done in Flash many years ago by one of the hotshot Flash developers? Can't find it...)

Update: The Flash site was They Rule by Josh On "with the indispensable assistance of LittleSis.org". Well, how about that. (via @ajayskapoor)

Incredible breakdancing crew from KoreaJUN 20

Morning of Owl is a dance crew from Korea and they are from The Matrix, I think?

How did you do that? You moved like they do. I've never seen anyone move that fast.

Amazing athleticism and coordination. (via @aaroncoleman0)

Time lapse of two hydroelectric dams being torn downJUN 20

Two hydroelectric dams on the Elwha River in Washington were removed in order to restore the river's ecosystem -- in particular, the salmon habitat. It was the largest dam removal in the US history and, as the video explains, has been successful so far in attracting fish back to its waters. But for our purposes here today, the first 30 seconds shows how the dams were unbuilt and the rivers reshaped.

See also this time lapse of another Washington dam being disabled and its reservoir drained:

A collection of maps of the languages and ethnic groups of AsiaJUN 20

Language Map China

Language Map India

Language Map Indochina

Tim Merrill is using Pinterest to collect maps showing where ethnic groups live and what languages are spoken in Asia.

The anxiety of Father's Day cardsTIM CARMODY  ·  JUN 17

All greeting cards are bad, but can we agree that Father's Day cards are particularly bad?

Cards for dads are a lot like T-shirts for toddlers: aggressively, relentlessly gendered. It's telling many of the sports-themed cards look like wallpaper you might find in a child's bedroom. As it turns out, the blue-is-for-boys, pink-is-for-girls anxiety doesn't end in childhood. Now it's beer-is-for-dads, wine-is-for-moms. To that end, Mother's Day cards aren't much better -- hope you like flowers! -- but there's something striking about cards for dads, as though they exist to remind dads they are Manly Men Who Like Things For Manly Men, As Randomly Determined By Popular Culture.

A greeting card is a strange commercial product for lots of reasons, not least because of agency problems. By definition, the person buying a card is pretty much never the person whom it's for. Add in whatever traditions are associated with the occasion, gaps in power or familiarity between the gifter and giftee, and it's practically a recipe for people to tighten up and go super-conservative.

This does remind me of a thread in the webcomic Achewood where Roast Beef is inspired to create his own line of greeting cards for everyday occasions. By the end, he and his friend Ray are coming up with "Dude-to-Dude" cards like "Dogg Let's Go Eat Dishes With Chorizo When Our Ladies Aren't Around" or "Dogg It Must Feel Sick As Hell To Recieve A Card From A Dude." (If I were to ever receive either of these cards from my son for Father's Day, I'd be thrilled.)

Earth has a new(ish) quasi-moonTIM CARMODY  ·  JUN 17

About a hundred years ago, a tiny asteroid making its way around the sun got caught in Earth's gravity well. Now it's locked in an irregular orbit far around our planet, between 38 and 100 times the distance between the Earth and its proper moon.

quasi-moon.JPG

As it orbits the sun, asteroid 2016 HO3 spends about half of the time closer to the sun than Earth, and passes ahead of our planet. The other half of the time it falls behind.

It's also in a tilted orbit, which causes it to weave up and down on the orbital plane like a bob on choppy waters. As NASA's Paul Chodas put it in a press statement, "In effect, this small asteroid is caught in a little dance with Earth."

In another couple of centuries, the asteroid will probably get far enough away that it'll leave Earth behind forever. I wonder how many times this has happened -- how many times the asteroids have been bigger, closer, but still not big or close enough to stay.

The early works of the D'AulairesTIM CARMODY  ·  JUN 17

Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire, a married team of writer-artists, are best known for their popular late works on Greek and Norse mythology. (After Calvin and Hobbes, D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths was probably the most important book of my childhood.) But after some early works on Norse folktales (Ingri was Norwegian, Edgar German/Swiss; they met in Germany and emigrated to the US in the 1920s), the D'Aulaires made a series of award-winning books on American history and folklore, much in the mythic, dreamy style of their later work.

Like any mythological hero, the D'Aulaires' George Washington has powers beyond those of ordinary men. He's stronger than other boys and rides his horse more skillfully. He can hurl a rock across the width of the river. He's shot, but unharmed. Lincoln is also demigod-like, when they tell of how he "wrestled with the strongest and toughest of them all, and threw them to the ground."

Daulaires-Lincoln.jpg

The limits of forensic science, and beyondTIM CARMODY  ·  JUN 16

Veronique Greenwood's story on a new method to infer someone's physical appearance from DNA evidence doubles as a skeptical mini-history of forensic science:

In 2009 the National Academy of Sciences released a blistering report calling into question the scientific validity of the analysis of fingerprints, bite marks, blood spatters, clothing fiber, handwriting, bullet markings, and many other mainstays of forensic investigation. It concluded that with one exception [DNA evidence], no forensic method could be relied on with a high degree of certainty to "demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source."

And even with DNA, it's tricky. The common theme: academics doing pure research have a better track record than criminal investigators trying to prove or crack a case, or companies trying to develop a product. (See also: everything.)

How to tell left from rightTIM CARMODY  ·  JUN 16

Not everyone can distinguish between left and right. Besides natural affinity (or lack of it), health, drug use, other chemical changes, and stress can all cause our basic body compass to break down.

Telling left from right necessitates complex brain processes that include spatial perceptions, memory, language, and the integration of sensory information. The task is made increasingly complex when a person must identify laterality on someone else. Yoga teachers and other fitness instructors have it extra rough: While calling out to students to bend their left knee, the instructor has to raise their own right to mirror the class...

However, the field under the most pressure to avoid lateral confusion is medicine. In the dentist's chair, there's money wasted when hygienists x-ray the wrong tooth. It's even worse when a left-right-disoriented dentist pulls one or more teeth from the incorrect side of the mouth. It's even more serious in general surgery: A 2011 report estimates that there are 40 wrong-site surgeries done weekly in the U.S., and many of those involve mixing up a patient's left and right. This is a devastating problem: If a doctor removes the healthy kidney and not the cancerous one, the results can be fatal. Wrong eye? Now we have a fully blind patient.

There's nothing inherent about left, right, up, and down -- or what are sometimes called "egocentric coordinates." Speakers of Guugu Yimithirr in Australia famously use a coordinate system that leans much more heavily on absolute geocentric references at right angles (their equivalent of north, south, east, and west).

This plays a little easier when you're playing off objects with fixed positions, like landmarks, or especially, the sun, than it does in big twisty-turny cities. But you could imagine in a world with ubiquitous handheld maps and compasses that a north/south/east/west orientation might make more sense.

What's more, some of the old tech people used to train themselves to distinguish or remember left and right -- miming handwriting, or wearing a wristwatch on one arm -- aren't as common or dominant as they once were. See also: distinguishing angular position by analogy with the face of an analog clock.

Either we come up with new tricks and new metaphors, or it's conceivable that what's seemed like an intuitive, natural way to think about the relative position of bodies in space could become a whole lot less intuitive for more and more people.

A calendar for fictional holidaysTIM CARMODY  ·  JUN 16

I love James Joyce's Ulysses, spent a huge chunk of my life in grad school trying to figure out that book, still follow a ton of modernist scholars and Joyce freaks on social media, and even I managed to forget that today was Bloomsday, the anniversary of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold and Molly Bloom's treks across Dublin in that book.

I also love Star Trek: The Next Generation, probably even more than I do James Joyce, and I had no idea that today was also "Captain Picard's Day," when the children on the Enterprise honor him (and make him deeply uncomfortable) by presenting him with arts and crafts.

What I needed (for a peculiar definition of "need") was a calendar plugin, something to put the anniversary of Terminator 2's Judgment Day, The Simpsons' Whacking Day, and Roy Batty's inception date directly into my stream of doctor's appointments, scheduled phone calls, NBA games shown on broadcast basic cable, and Facebook friends' birthdays.

And that's exactly what the staff at Atlas Obscura made: a pop culture calendar of imaginary holidays. It doesn't solve real problems, unless those problems include properly commemorating The Purge. But it is pretty fun.

« Newer entries  |  Older entries »

this is kottke.org

   Front page
   About + contact
   Site archives

You can follow kottke.org on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Feedly, or RSS.

Ad from The Deck

We Work Remotely

 

Enginehosting

Hosting provided EngineHosting